Monday, September 28, 2009

Bonhoeffer on Suffering

Dietrich Bonhoeffer in "The Cost of Discipleship..."

“The cross…is that dying of the old man which is the result of his encounter with Christ…The cross is not the terrible end to an otherwise god-fearing and happy life, but it meets us at the beginning of our communion with Christ. When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die…It is the same death every time – death in Jesus Christ, the death of the old man…Only the man who is dead to his own will can follow Christ. In fact, every command of Jesus is a call to die, with all our affections and lusts. But we do not want to die, and therefore Jesus Christ and…the baptism in the name of Christ means both death and life…Baptism sets the Christian in the middle of the daily arena against sin and the devil…The wounds and scars he receives in the fray are living tokens of this participation in the cross of his Lord…While it is true that only the sufferings of Christ are a means of atonement, yet since has suffered for and borne the sins of the whole world and shares with his disciples the fruits of his passion, the Christian also has to bear the sins of others…but he would certainly break down under this burden, but for the support of him who bore the sins of all. The passion of Christ strengthens him to overcome the sins of others buy forgiving them. He becomes the bearer of other men’s burdens – “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Gal. 6:2). As Christ bears our burdens, so ought we to bear the burdens of our fellow-men. The law of Christ…is the bearing of the cross. My brother’s burden which I must bear is not only his outward lot, his natural characteristics and gifts, but quite literally his sin. And the only way to bear that sin is by forgiving it in the power of the cross of Christ in which I now share…Forgiveness is the Christlike suffering which it is the Christian’s duty to bear.”

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